Everest climber reaches summit, makes first cell phone call from there

Rod Baber called a voice-mail account via a new cell tower in China

British mountain climber Rod Baber reached the summit of Mount Everest early today, local time, where he made the world's highest land-based cellular phone call and sent a text message.

Using a Motorola MOTO Z8 phone from 29,035 feet, Baber first called a special voice-mail account and then made a second call to his wife and family, a spokeswoman for Motorola Inc. said. He also sent a text message to a Motorola employee that read, "One small text for man, one giant leap for mobilekind -- thanks Motorola."

An audio file provided of the first call portrays an exhausted Baber, 36, saying he has reached the summit and has made the highest call. "It's amazing. The Himalayas are everywhere," he says in the message between labored breaths.

A Motorola spokeswoman in London said a recording of the actual call has been posted on the Motorola site along with photographs and other information on Baber's ascent.

The spokeswoman said Baber, who had been climbing to the summit for seven days from a base camp, was using oxygen during the climb and had to keep his voice calls short between taking oxygen. The summit was reached in clear weather, although wind can be heard on the call, she added.

The call was made at 5:37 a.m. local time in the Himilayas, which about 1 a.m. London time and 8 p.m. Sunday EST.

Satellite phone calls have been made many times from Everest using heavy equipment, but a cell phone call was not possible until now because of the lack of ground-based cellular infrastructure, Baber said in an e-mail interview in April. China Telecom installed a cell tower in Rongbuk only last year, about 12 miles from mountain peak, allowing line-of-site transmission with the summit, he explained.

"Everest symbolizes the greatest challenge to any climber. To reach the summit and achieve world records with Motorola is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Baber from Everest Base Camp before reaching the summit, according to a statement. "My MOTO Z8 has totally enhanced the experience up here, giving me the added confidence and peace of mind to know that friends, family and even help were just a phone call away."

"Motorola is committed to pushing the limits of technology and innovation, and we have a strong heritage of world first achievements," said Allen Burnes, corporate vice president, Motorola Mobile Devices, Europe, Middle East, Africa and India, in a statement. "We famously provided the technology that communicated the first words from the moon, and now we're pleased to say we were the first to provide a mobile call from the top of the world. This challenge was a true test of man and machine for Rod and MOTO Z8."

MOTO Z8, a consumer-grade phone slated to ship in Europe and Asia in June, was announced last week by Motorola. No plans have been unveiled yet for offering the device in North America. It features video playback at speeds up to 30 frames per second, high-definition video capture and a high-fidelity music player. With ultrafast high-speed downlink packet access technology, it includes a 16 million-color, 35- by 50-mm Quarter Video Graphics Array full-screen display. It is also designed for Global System for Mobile Communication networks.

MOTO Z8 also features Motorola's first-ever "kick slider," a mechanism designed to open in a curve to match the contour of the user's face.

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